Quitting to say an open letter to Mr Goh

September 24, 2002
Singapore Democrats

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A reader of this website recently wrote a letter to Mr Goh Chok Tong and sent it to us. We had to edit certain parts of it to avoid legal problems. We reproduce the letter here.

So after calling Singaporeans quitters, Mr Goh, has decided to backtrack a little by claiming that it was meant to be a wake-up call for the younger generation.

Mr Goh, you should realise it is easy for you and your Cabinet to stay because you are being paid millions to do so. From the comfort of your ivory tower it is easy to look down upon us, point your accusing finger and say that Singaporeans must be loyal and patriotic Stayers, not Quitters.

I have tried to refrain from writing this but feel compelled to do so because the Government remains silent on many issues. Or the answers that it offers are evasive at best.

It is easy to simplify the problem of ‘quitters’ and put it down to bus and MRT fare hikes. The real problem goes much deeper. And it won’t be solved by allowing people to dance on bar counters either (as was recently proposed).

I had to leave Singapore in order to stay. I have been working abroad for more than a year now.

Why? Because I can’t get a job in Singapore

Why? Because foreigners have taken my job. The number of ‘talented’ foreigners coming to Singapore means there is no way back for me.

Yet there are bills to pay in Singapore, Mr Goh. A home loan to service. Credit Card bills to settle. PUB bills. Telecom bills. And of course Income Tax.

You and your government are fond of saying ‘there are no free lunches’ in this town. So why don’t you tell me how I am suppose to pay my bills? The best one your MPs can come up with is ‘drive a taxi, lah.’

I am a professional and do better work than many of the foreigners who beat me to job vacancies. I was earning good money. I am still producing the work except in another country. The Government has betrayed people like me. It put the foreigners’ interests before those of Singaporeans. It welcomes ‘quitters’ from foreign countries and derides us in the same breath. We’re only exercising our right to earn a living a right which is being denied us in Singapore.

It is really distressing to receive emails from friends telling me that they have been ‘retrenched’ only to be replaced by mediocre foreigners. The Government is fond of citing the US as an example of a country that has benefited from a foreign influx. What it doesn’t seem to understand is that the US is a really huge country. There is room for more people, talented or otherwise. There are more opportunities. It also benefits from the democratic process.

Singapore on the other hand is so small. The more foreigners there are, the more Singaporeans there will be without jobs. Certain sectors have far too many foreigners who are simply robbing us of our right to stay.

If we are quitters what about the thousands of foreigners who only work in Singapore between 2 to 5 years and then move on to some other foreign country or back home. We are nothing more than a country that has opened its gates to foreign invaders just so they can drink from our well while many ordinary citizens go on thirsting.

We are not looking for free lunches, Mr Goh. We just don’t understand how a foreigner who earns $2,500 can be called a talent. What stretch of the imagination did your government use as the yardstick?

On top of that your government, Mr Goh, has stacked the odds against us even further because employers do not have to pay CPF to foreigners. That means we locals are more expensive to hire than foreigners. Which means the foreigner will beat us to the job every time. Because for employers the bottomline is cost. I am trying to keep it simple just to be sure that your government understands the problem. Your Economic Review Committee (or whatever) doesn’t seem to have picked up on it.

I have no qualms about foreign talent occupying top positions. If they are talented, that’s where you’d expect to find them – at the very top or thereabouts. Why should foreign talent be allowed to only take away our jobs?

You say you listen, Mr Goh, and that you’d fight for Singaporeans who can’t leave. But you do nothing. You do nothing to stop the unnecessary influx of foreigners.

You do nothing when companies that provide a public service increase their fares and charges without offering sound reasons.
You do nothing when GLCs rob small and medium enterprises of a chance to grow.

You do nothing when the NTUC muscles its way into one business venture after another at the expense of small and medium business.

You did nothing when the President elected to protect our nation’s reserves was thwarted in his attempts to establish exactly how much reserves we have.

You do nothing when the Mr Lee Hsien Loong defends the constricting presence of GLCs.

You talk about serving the public, yet how many of your MPs have made sacrifices? Do you know how many ordinary Singaporeans have made sacrifices?

But perhaps there is one thing you can do before you go, Mr Goh (for surely you must go). Party politics aside, do the right thing. If history has taught us one thing it is that nothing lasts forever. Like many Singaporeans, I have watched you grow in stature over the years. But we are all puzzled as to why you do not act to prevent the things listed above. Rhetoric is not good enough.

Finally Mr Goh, you are a man who walks softly but you carry a big stick. Use it on some of the people in your party for a change. Then see how many would stay and how many would quit.

Name and address withheld.